Edinburgh Part Two: Assuming

It's amazing that in a city as busy as Edinburgh in August and it does heave, you can spot a person in one part of the city - they catch your eye because you're sure there's a story there - then a couple of days later, you see them again somewhere entirely different. So it was with a lady, I saw last Saturday outside the Waitrose in Morningside (so middle class, I know) and then two days later in Charlotte Square. Ok so the Waitrose and EdBookfest possibly appeal to a similar sort of person but, making loads of assumptions here, the lady didn't appear as if she belonged in either.

An old social work joke is 'never assume because it makes an ass out of u and me. But if we're making stories, assuming is fairly close to imagining.

I was in Charlotte Square on that Monday to see Meg Rosoff and Amity Gaige talking about fathers and daughters. Meg Rossoff's Picture Me Gone and Amity Gaige's Schroder ( for an adult audience) are both about dads and daughters on road trips.  I'd longed to see Meg Rosoff for ages. I'd read that she's not a plotter or a planner but I hadn't read that she's has never written a page of backstory. She  described how she knows instinctively how a character might act, respond, think or feel  in any situation. This suggests she is able to empathise to the extent that she can become that person.

The following day Sally Gardner said that all writers are failed actors and that, very appropriately, she has to get the shoes to get the character. (I've learned from my daughter that acting isn't really about 'acting' at all but about being.)

Sally shared the stage with Elizabeth Wein and RJ Palacio, the author of Wonder. It was especially great to meet Elizabeth and obviously get Maggot Moon, Rose Under Fire (sequel to Verity) and Wonder signed.

As soon as I saw my lady again, in slippers and  the same old, worn and dirty jacket, I decided that appearance used to be be important to her, that she'd read the classics and at last she was enjoying some anonymity. Some young people, who didn't seem to belong to the typical Edbookfest demographic had also wandered into the garden to 'make out'. I wondered if they had a copy of Great Expectations squished in a pocket somewhere and that after they'd finished making a point in the square, they were going to find a quiet spot elsewhere to read excerpts aloud to each other. They reminded me of the brilliant Julian Smith:

I've been looking for a reason to embed this for ages!

Once again this week so grateful to the team for coming to the rescue, while I was on the flimsiest 3G . Thank you John for posting our new featured illustrator, Nicola Robinson's, wonderful new banner. Do follow the links to Nicola's Gallery page.

I promised you the making of Duck & Bear, last week but with my holiday head on I muddled my weeks and I'm delighted to tell you that this week we really do have the making of Duck & Bear. I loved Maureen's analytical approach to the potentially very emotional experience of reading a critique  and what a resource Ask A Publisher is becoming! Once again illuminating answers from Sara.

It's going to be great to watch the South East Scotland Network grow - brilliant work Sheila and Louise. And yesterday were you really that surprised that Mark Jones has landed an agent? Every one of his posts makes me laugh and his celebrations report is no exception.

Next week along with the making of Duck & Bear we have advice from Annie Neild on finding the right critique group for you, another Social Sheila Video and on Wednesday a special feature on two Very Important People. Nick will be here with some more summertime reading and Network News is from Central North.

I hope that everyone who wanted to submit to Undiscovered Voices this week managed to in time and Welcome to everyone who's joined SCBWI so that they could enter. December is a long wait for the long list, so why not while away some of the time with us here on Words & Pictures?

Read books too,
Jan Carr

Jan Carr is the editor of Words & Pictures. Her fiction is older middle grade, she blogs occasionally and loves to write in magenta. You can contact her at editor@britishscbwi.org.


  1. Sounds like you're having an amazing time, Jan. Thanks so much for sharing.


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